Carer jailed for operating loan shark business in Leeds

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A CARER who operated a loan shark business targeting “desperate and exceptionally vulnerable” people has been jailed.

Georgina Balboa Serrato, 42, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after a court heard how more than a quarter of a million pounds passed through her bank accounts during an eight year period.

A court heard one victim took out a £2,000 loan with Serrato in 2007 to send to her son in the Philippines who was suffering from cerebral palsy.

The woman ended up paying back over £11,000 and was still making payments at the time Serrato was arrested in 2013. Mother-of-two Serrato pleaded guilty to operating without a consumer credit licence and two of money laundering at Leeds Crown Court. Serrato’s husband Nestor, 42, pleaded guilty to money laundering. He allowed his wife to use his bank accounts during the illegal operation. He was given a ten-month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work. Serrato, of Oak Tree Drive, Gipton, would target vulnerable members of the Filipino community which she met at meetings of people from her native country. Another victim ended up paying over £21,000 after taking out loans worth £3,500.

Serrato made arrangements with victims to pay back 10 per cent of the loans per month but the capital was never reduced so they would go on making payments indefinitely.

On other occasions Serrato would entice victims by giving them jewellery and other expensive luxury items, including Louis Vuitton handbags. They would then have to make payments for them. Serrato worked as a carer throughout the period of offending. Judge Neil Clark, said: “It was a mean and unpleasant thing to do. You were taking money from people who were desperate.”